DragonArtz Designs is one of my favorite places to get free vectors for projects. I really like this site because there is a great variety of artwork under many different topics and the artwork is really free. All you have to do is download it!
There is nothing more frustrating to me than finally finding what I need on some "free vector" site or through a Google search and then discovering that I'm going to have to shell out some dough that I didn't ask the client for ahead of time. Vectors usually aren't that expensive, but it can really add up over time. I haven't found a single piece of artwork on this site that requires a fee.
Check out this great resource here: DragonArtz.net
There was time in my career as a designer when I would have never considered using "free" artwork in a design project. I guess I considered it cheating and beneath me.
A Few Thoughts About Using Free Artwork:
After I reached a certain level of proficiency with my programs, I figured I could recreate just about anything in Illustrator, or Photoshop for that matter, and add my own personal flair and style and set the world on fire with my unique style and mad skills.
Client: "Look how amazing that rendition of a lightbulb is, brilliant!"
After spending hours and hours getting some element of a design to look exactly how I wanted time after time after time I began to notice some things.
Clients Don't Really Care
I noticed that clients rarely appreciated how unique and brilliant my version of an object was. They might really be able to appreciate how well the design as a whole worked, but my incredible rendering of a lightbulb was nothing more than a lightbulb that they wanted included in the design to them. "Lightbulb: check".
Time = Money
I also noticed that most clients don't want to pay for all of the extra time I spent getting the reflection on that lightbulb just so, so I'd end up not charging for all of the time I spent. Not a good career move on my part. Sure, there are projects here and there where I care enough to spend the extra time to create something truly unique and fabulous on my dime, but for the most part, these days I just need something that is good representation of an object that I can easily modify to make it work with a design.
Proficiency and Efficiency Matter
Along the same lines, the extra time spent on so many projects really started to wear me out and, to be honest, I started to get a reputation for being kind of slow. That's a killer for a designer when there are tight deadlines and a client's money involved. I started to wonder if all my hard work and lack of sleep was really worth it.
Design shouldn't be that way, but in the "real world" it is. Clients are purchasing your services like they would any other service or product they need for their business and they expect you to be efficient or they will find someone else who is. Every new design ought to have whatever time and money it takes to make it excellent, but when you're dealing with limited (and sometimes very small) budgets and timelines (usually at the last minute), the reality is that a lot of times you have to find a happy medium of decent artwork that you can easily adapt and rock n' roll with quickly.
Kind of a far cry from sitting in design classes dreaming of how I was going to stun the design world with my truly unique and inspiring work. My point is, in the real world, not every project is going to be an award winner. (But some are and when you're lucky enough to get one you grab it with both hands and do you absolute best!) Proficiency with your programs will go a long way in giving you the time to be creative in the time you are alloted and sites like DragonArtz Designs can really give you a leg up on a lot of the time I would have to spend researching and creating from scratch.
Vector artwork is cool because it is so easy to manipulate, combine and edit.
It took me over half of my career to get over my stubborn determination to create everything from scratch. Or at least to save that determination for when it really counts. Hopefully, I can save you some time!
What about you? How do you feel about using free or "stock" artwork in a project? Is using free artwork "cheating"?
Please feel free to leave a comment.
Thanks for reading.